Emergency section 8 HUD housing choice vouchers.

Priority, or emergency section 8 HUD vouching choice vouchers, can be provided to senior citizens, the disabled, veterans, women fleeing domestic violence, people fleeing a disaster and others. With the waiting list for many local public housing authorities (PHA) closed or backlogged for many months or years, a housing choice voucher can be very difficult to get. But in an emergency, an applicant may be given priority on their section 8 application. The system used to determine who is qualified is based on a point scale.

There are never any guarantees to having the application or wait process accelerated. There will always be limited funding from the federal government and a shortage of low-income housing units. So even though a section 8 emergency voucher is possible, the process is still long, complicated, and time consuming.

Waiting list for section 8 emergency housing choice vouchers

There are a few different ways to be given priority. Note that the applicant still need to meet all the other program terms, such as be low income, have limited assets, have residency within the jurisdiction, and other criteria. Any home or apartment provided will also be income based, and the tenant will need to pay 30% of their total household income for the rent on the section 8 property. The landlord also needs to participate in the program. Those conditions of the HCV program do not change.

Emergency section 8 is also called a priority list. The determination is based on a point scale, with a higher score meaning the applicant may be placed towards the top of the wait list. The person seeking the rent voucher also needs to have a home available that meets their preference. All of the following groups of individuals may be able to get a voucher, or put to the top of a waiting list when the next voucher or apartment becomes available in their community.





  • Senior citizens and the elderly, and there may be supportive housing offered too that offer on site medical care.
  • Disabled, whether mental or physical.
  • Veterans and service members.
  • Anyone that was displaced from another public housing unit.
  • Women (or men) as well as children fleeing domestic violence or abuse may be placed into a shelter, then moved on an emergency basis into the Housing Choice Voucher section 8 program.
  • If someone has had a house destroyed by say a fire, floor, or natural disaster, they may be given priority too. But more than likely FEMA housing is used for them.

All those situations may apply. A local HUD qualified public housing authority can provide more information on the terms and conditions as well as how to apply. However, the most likely situation in which a emergency housing choice voucher is given will be if the applicant is a very low income senior citizen or disabled person. The Department of Housing and Urban Development makes more efforts to get them to the top of waiting list, if their housing unit preference becomes available.

To apply for an emergency section 8 voucher, and to try to be given priority, call a local public housing authority in your town or county. The search bar at the top can be used to find one, or HUD has a customer support number at (800) 955-2232.

Additional emergency housing options

Note, emergency housing choice voucher programs still take time to process. There are no guarantees from any PHA that someone will be given priority, no matter their background or situation. So, the applicant may not be given priority at all. So, it will take a while to get any rent assistance from the section 8 program.





If the tenant has an imminent crisis, such as maybe an eviction or pay or quit notice from their landlord, there are other resources available as well. Most of this form of financial aid is offered by charities, non-profits, or homeless prevention programs. For a list of programs that provide rent assistance in an emergency to qualified low to moderate income families that are in a crisis.


By Jon McNamara

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